Recently, on a trip to New York City for a conference, things didn't turn out quite as expected.
Knowing that my Big Apple friends are busy bees, I wrote them all an email a month before getting there, saying in essence, "I'm coming, would love to see you, prepare the city for my arrival."
Of them, just over half responded and said they wanted to hang out. Two college friends from college were particularly enthusiastic. Outstanding.
Let me tell you what happened. I got to see about half of those who responded. And I didn't connect to the two really enthusiastic ones at all. They didn't even return my last phone call to arrange a meeting.
Now, if this had happened a few years ago, I would have been devastated. "I've known these cats for over 15 years, and they won't even show up after they haven't seen me in forever? What's the world coming to?"
But surprisingly, this time around, it didn't bother me at all. Not a smidge.
What was different?
It wasn't always this way, so before this becomes some kind of grand exposition on my spiritual development, let's examine the kind of belief structures that made this possible for this formerly sensitive guy.
And why does this matter? Because if you can get over your buddy of 15 years ditching you in the middle of New York City after you haven't seen him in years, you can certainly handle the vagaries of dating, or any other endeavor that involves humans disappointing you regularly.
So here are the five principles:
1) Ascribe positive intent.
My stance was that I love these guys, and they love me back. So if something happened, it happened in spite of the fact that they wanted to hang out with me. I ascribed to them a positive intent.
Events in themselves have no meaning, and we usually have the latitude to pick a positive, negative or neutral interpretation of what happens. The positive one usually makes you feel better, so I recommend you pick that one.
2) Suspend judgment and take action instead.
I wasn't thinking, "Wow, how very awful of them to do this." I simply assessed the situation at hand ("This time slot that I thought was taken before is now available") and I took action ("Now I can go do something else in this vast metropolis").
Being fulfillment-centered means focusing on what makes you happy. If finding something fun to do makes you happier than stewing in your own juices, do that instead.
The Tao says that water doesn't try to topple or break an obstacle it encounters; it simply finds a way to go around it. This was facilitated by the fact that...
3) Have options.
I had several other friends and social events where I could spend my time, so I picked one of those. This way, I was busy and enjoying myself and simply didn't have the mental space to worry about the missing buddies.
Now you could say, "Well, that's nice, but what about those who don't have as many options?"
Here's the good news: You always have options, especially when you think you don't. This is the essence of the principle of abundance.
Look around, do some research, and you'll find something worth your while, always. Your ability to entertain yourself and have a ball regardless of circumstance is a prime determinant of your success in dating and life. Which brings us to...
4) Be your own best option.
Do you dread being alone, or do you know exactly what you would do if you had a few spare hours? Because you can only provide others with good company if you're your own good company first. Realize that although you may *want* company and find it pleasant, you never *need* it. Big difference.
Meditation can get you to that realization. If you're perfectly happy and blissed-out doing nothing, then anything else is just gravy on top.
To apply this to a dating context, this means that even if you don't have any company available to you, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have a decent alternative to any company you *could* have.
In the Tao of Persuasion course, I talk about this as your BATNA -- best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Your hidden power in a negotiation comes from your BATNA. Every dating situation is like a negotiation, so make you your most poweful BATNA.
5) Practice compassion.
This goes back to the interpretation thing. When someone 'does you wrong' -- whatever that means -- you have three choices of reactions.
a) Get mad. Easy. Feels good at first, crappy in long run.
b) Be indifferent. Hard, unless you are a cabbage.
c) Feel good about it. Easier than it sounds. And yes, it feels good to feel good.
So how can you feel good about getting dissed? Simple: practice compassion. If someone 'wronged' you, it could mean that the person had some temporary (or worse, permanent) spiritual issue. So the same way you wouldn't make fun of a sick person, you wouldn't make fun of him. You would send compassion. And compassion feels good. And feeling good empowers you.
So you just turned a seemingly adverse event into empowerment. Neat trick, eh.
When I was younger, I used to hear things like 'turn the other cheek' or 'love thine enemy' and it made no sense to me. How the hell is getting slapped on both cheeks better than getting slapped on one?
But now, looking at it metaphorically, it makes a lot more sense. Compassion just makes you a more powerful person. Strengthens your immune system, too. Anger jumbles up your nerves, grinds you down and makes you more susceptible to disease. Your pick.
So, as you go through the challenges of dating and friendship, remember: suspension of judgment, assumption of positive intent, compassion and abundance consciousness are your weapons. Use them wisely, and may life be your non-stop party.
The power is within you,